Henry Jamyn Brooks

Well known Victorian Portrait Artist

By Janet Penn

Photo:Portrait photo by Henry J Brooks

Portrait photo by Henry J Brooks

Henry Jamyn Brooks b1839 in Birmingham, was a well known Victorian Portrait Artist. He also took up photography and had a studio in the High Street, Abingdon from 1869-1877. He was the artist, Henry J Brooks, who was commissioned to paint the portrait of Tom Morris (the father of the game of golf).

What connection does he have to Canvey? He was living here with his wife, Selina, in 1911 at a place called ‘The Ranch’, we have not yet found out where on the island this was. His occupation was stated as Portrait Artist. In earlier census he has stated Portrait Artist and Photographer.

His wife came from Abingdon where they married and lived for many years. He was in Fulham by 1891 and Paddington in the 1901 census before moving to Canvey sometime between then and 1911. He died in 1925 in Shalford, Essex which is not far from Finchingfield, where he had been living since at least 1919.

Photo:Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888 by Henry Jamyn Brooks

Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888 by Henry Jamyn Brooks

©National Portrait Gallery

If anyone has any information about Henry Brooks, if you have any of his photos or paintings would you please comment below.

Photo from Victorian Ladies

This page was added by Janet Penn on 23/12/2011.
Comments about this page

Another interesting story, Jan, first time I've heard of this artist but I know where ' The Ranch' was. It was the second bungalow down on the left-hand side in St Annes Rd and in the 40s/50s was the home of the Seddons family.

By Graham Stevens
On 25/12/2011

Hi Jan I am researching my family and Henry was the brother of my great great grandfather, the whole family was into painting or photography. Im hoping to get a photo of Henry and Selina soon.

By Gary Tearney
On 12/05/2012

Please send us a copy Gary. Thanks

By Janet Penn
On 12/05/2012

Our family has a portrait by Brooks. It is of my Granfather -Rev David Ewart-James of Clifftown Church, Westcliff.

By David Ewart-James
On 07/08/2016

In 1910 "The Ranch" was the first property down the left of Norbotten Road as coming from the High St, which later became St Annes road. There was a bit of land with it so I can see how another property got built and then made it the second property when Graham Stevens remembers it. Interestingly the Rev J. R. BROWN also rented this property out presumably for the curate of St Annes (i.e. R.J.H MONTEITH)

By Martin Lepley
On 09/08/2016

Yes Martin that bungalow on the corner of St Annes and the High St was the home of the Brassington family.The ditch was still alongside the High St and Mr Brassington had a big shed/workshop up against it. My sister Jenny and I remember he used to have a lawnmower repairing business there.

By Graham Stevens
On 13/08/2016

Henry was born at Birmingham (probably in Digbeth where his parents were living) on 24th Feb 1839, and christened at the church of St Martin in the Bullring on 15th March. His father John Brook(e)s - it is found spelled both ways - was a portrait painter born in Mossley, Lancashire in 1793; he had made his way to Brum via periods at Stockport & Manchester. Henry's mother Mary was Welsh, born in Montgomeryshire in 1803.

Soon after Henry's baptism (as 'Henry James Brookes') the family moved east, and by 1841 had settled (via Ely) in Cambridge, where John Brooks seems to have had for a while a successful portrait business. Henry was raised there - and strangely christened a second time in the town in April 1844 - before they moved back to B'ham. Father John flirted with photography himself in the city in the early 1850s, then after his wife's death moved with his youngest son Benjamin (who became a photographic colourist) to London, where he probably died. He is last found in the 1861 Census in Paddington.

Meanwhile Henry's elder brother John Swindley Brooks had also gone into the photography business, living and practising widely across the country in Oxfordshire, in Kent, and finally in Yorkshire, where he died in 1908.

There is more about the life and career (especially in Cambridge) of Henry's father John Brooks and family in this long-running discussion on the Art Detective website.

By Osmund Bullock
On 08/08/2017

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